Simon Seefeldt – ChallengeMe.GG – 2.5 million matches and counting..

Simon Seefeldt, ChallengeMe.GG

Following ChallengeMe’s acquisition of Esports Hero, and a $4.9m investment from Esports Mogul we saw it fitting to have a sitdown with ChallengeMe.GG CEO Simon Seefeldt

To date the platform has offered CS:GO in Germany and Poland, but now it’s preparing for a major expansion. Ahead of this we spoke to Simon who is based in the company’s Berlin office about the story so far, the plans for entering new markets, live community events and Rocket League.

Esports Insider: Tell me more about the company, its growth and the investment

Simon: I’ve been in and around the gaming space for over 12 years now. I founded two companies before we launched ChallengeMe.GG. I worked with free to play and mobile games and was close to leaving gaming altogether before I saw the big opportunity in esports. This was two years ago now and during this time I met our first round of seed investors. This was a Swiss company called Viewster and a Polish company called RedSky. They approached me to set up a different esports company but I told them about the idea for ChallengeMe.GG, and they went for it.

“Our goal then, as it is now, is to try and make esports as accessible as possible for everyone”

The company was officially founded in March 2015 meaning we’ve just celebrated our two year anniversary. Our goal then, as it is now, is to try and make esports as accessible as possible for everyone. The aim with ChallengeMe.GG is to provide a feature rich environment but which allows you to start playing quickly and simply. As of right now, we’re integrated with CS:GO, it’s all automated. The platform finds you an opponent, you click play, and all of the statistics are automatically relayed to the ChallengeMe platform and displayed visually in a ready-to-view format.

In October 2015 we launched into a closed Beta focused on our home German & Polish markets. People liked it so we kept growing it out, and in May 2016 the Open Beta began. By then we had expanded our matchmaking capabilities to include a fully automated tournament system. Very quickly we held our very first tournaments, the Streamer Showdown in Germany and Poland, featuring some of the biggest CSGO streamers in those countries. This concept was a really natural fit since our service is very popular with Twitch streamers, who use it to play with their live audience quickly and easily.

“We are now at over half a million registered users and we’ve had over 2.5 million matches played on the platform. That was with 90% of our audience coming from only Germany and Poland alone”

This went down a storm, for the tournament weekend itself we had peak concurrent viewers of 18,000 and it gave the fans a top chance to play and have fun with their favourite streamers. Soon after we moved into the Polish market and that’s what we’ve been focussing on up until this point.

Then we announced the latest investment and acquisition of Esports Hero and investment by Esports Mogul. We are now at over half a million registered users and we’ve had over 2.5 million matches played on the platform. That was with 90% of our audience coming from only Germany and Poland alone.

With the investment we can build up and scale the team in addition to entering new markets as quickly as possible. That’s why we’re so happy with the investment deal. With us taking over Esports Hero it means we have a team, presence and expertise out of the box in the US market.

The same goes for Asia Pacific with Esports Mogul’s involvement. Being a strategic investor they’re also going to be marketing and rolling out the technology over there. This is another added benefit of this arrangement.

ESI: Which new regions are you planning to enter next in Europe?

Simon: We’ll be heading to France next. That’s where we’re looking to run our next Streamer Showdown. Beyond that the UK is naturally a target but we do feel that we’re going to get a lot of our UK users already targeted with our US presence.

“We will 100% be rolling out throughout mainland Europe. It’s a case of when, not if”

Outside of those two we’ll wait and see but we will 100% be rolling out throughout mainland Europe. It’s a case of when, not if.

ESI: You’ve offices in Berlin and Poland. Will you open more? And what are the plans for live events?

Simon: Esports Hero is based in New York and we’ll be setting up an office in the States. As such, New York makes sense but naturally for our industry Los Angeles is appealing too.

The value in the Esports Hero deal is that we were able to buy value, knowledge and expertise. We see ourselves mainly as a technology company, and as a facilitator to grow and propel esports scenes – also for tournament organisers. We have no ambition to rival the likes of ESL; live events for us are community focused and less competitive. More in line with the Streamer Showdown approach with the aim of making these people active on our online platform so we can monetise this when events aren’t taking place.

Our physical events will support our online product rather than the other way round.

ESI: So you want to create festivals and events rather than tournaments?

Simon: Exactly. At CME, we aren’t going to be putting on large scale pro-competitive events like ESL Majors ourselves but we’re focused on the peripheries; the surrounding fun elements of esports events such as Challenge the Pro style competitions, game meet-ups, music, and the opportunity for a training session from a top team as just a few examples.

“We’ve held over 300 CS:GO tournaments working with some high profile clients such as Nvidia and Microsoft”

The platform plays nicely into this type of event; it’s more casual and can be used at events. The data then automatically available to check back on when you’re home.

ESI: Plans for the rest of 2017 and beyond…new areas to diversify into? What is the ultimate aim?

Simon: Ultimately, the aim is to create the most accessible, yet feature-rich eSports hub where players of all skill-levels can play and get involved. We want to create rich, active and vibrant eSports communities!

To this end we will be integrating further titles in 2017, build out some very exciting new features for our players and tournament organisers and roll-out in new regions. And of course: build out our own-brand Streamer Showdown Tournament Series.

With regards to other events, we have run a number of these for third parties and it’s something we’ll be doing more of. We’ve held over 300 CS:GO tournaments working with some high profile clients such as Nvidia and Microsoft.

“[Esports fans] They’re selective too and brands must do more than slap a logo on something. Brands need to generate relevance”

We are a facilitator for tournament organisers for brands who want a strong tool, whether this is online only or a physical event. Only recently the guys in the US ran the whole presence for NewEgg at PAX East; this included Hearthstone and some challenge the pro type competitions.

ESI: What’s important for non-endemic entrants to understand when entering esports? Moreover any thoughts on Rocket League’s commercial potential?

Simon: They need to understand that as a whole esports fan work differently to previous generations. They’re not really watching TV, and they’re constantly online and connected. They want immediacy and they demand quality. They’re selective too and brands must do more than slap a logo on something. Brands need to generate relevance.

It’s important to understand the different demographics too depending on your brand, if you’re focusing on a hardcore gamer audience for instance perhaps opt for CS:GO over Hearthstone.

As for Rocket League it will undoubtedly do very well. Indeed it already is, and its accessibility and fun is why the Psyonix title has such potential. Whether it will reach the same level as the top, established titles we can only hope! As far as we’re concerned it is one we’re hoping to integrate quite soon and would be a perfect fit with our platform and audience.